Baccus starts for Olyroos in draw with Iraq

Wanderers midfielder Keanu Baccus has featured in the Olyroos hard-fought 1-1 draw with Iraq in their opening game of the AFC U-23 Championship in Thailand on Wednesday night.

Baccus played the entire 90 minutes while his Red & Black teammate Tass Mourdoukoutas was an unused substitute on the bench.

It was a fine reward for Baccus, who has been a regular with the Wanderers in the Hyundai A-League this season.

Wellington Phoenix’s Reno Piscopo scored with a stunning free-kick, but a late Iraq equaliser saw Australia have to settle for a share of the points.

Arnold's side were on course to open their Group A account with three points after Piscopo opened the scoring with a long-range effort just over the hour mark.

However, Iraq replied via substitute Mohammad Qasem's strike.

Australia dominated possession early in the game. Piscopo dragged a shot wide after Trent Buhagiar found the Phoenix attacker coming in alone at the back post, while Al Hassan Toure had the ball in the net only for the goal to be ruled out because of an infringement.

Piscopo continued to threaten the Iraq defence and rolled in another effort which narrowly missed after being set up by Gabriel Cleur, while an ambitious try from Aidan O’Neill.

Arnold's side continued to pressure the Iraq goal after the break and would find the breakthrough through Piscopo's moment of magic.

Having been tripped outside the box, Piscopo thrashed the resulting set-piece into the top right hand corner, leaving Iraq shotstopper Ali Kadhim Hadi with no chance. 

Australia looked to double their advantage but were left to rue a turnover which allowed Qasem to pounce and curl the ball past Glover to equaliser on 79 minutes. 

The AFC U-23 Championship sees Australia competing for a place at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games alongside 15 other Asian nations. 

Australia will play Thailand in their second match of the tournament on Saturday.